By: Bradley Shatraw
The St. Ray's Saints are moving onto the semifinals. They wasted no time getting on the board in this game after they scored on their first drive of the contest. After some good runs by Aaron Julius, Moses Meus hauled in the touchdown catch to put his team up 6-0 right out of the gate. The kick was good, and the Saints led 7-0.
Shea showed that they were ready to play by responding with a touchdown of their own on the next drive. Shea's Dramane Bamba carried this drive with his feet, as the Raiders fed him the rock nearly every play down the field. Quarterback Cam Seaver punched it in with a sneak play after some good execution from his offensive line. The extra point was no good, and Shea trailed 7-6.
One thing that was really impressive for Shea was the pressure that their defensive line was able to generate. Dylan Sheehan was a menace all night as he had 1.5 sacks and one of them forced St. Rays to eventually turn it over on downs. Luis Santos added a sack of his own for the Raiders as the pressure continued in the first half. That wasn't all though, as David Case and Dylan Sheehan teamed up for a huge sack as well.
As the first half was coming to a close, St. Rays' offense really came alive. Quarterback Daniel Wulf knew he didn't have a lot of time left, so he hurled a beautiful 40+ yard pass to Damien Ocampo to get his team into the redzone. The Saints went right back to Ocampo on the next play, connecting for a touchdown right before the half ended. The extra point was good again, and the Saints headed into halftime leading 14-6.
Shea got the ball to begin the 2nd half but wasn't able to make much happen with it. St. Rays' Ian Bing had a good sack on this drive, showing great anticipation and reading the play well. That eventually led the Raiders drive to stall, and St. Ray's got the ball back.
There were a couple of empty drives for each team before St. Rays started to push the ball down the field again. After a first down pass to Robert Littlejohn, the Saints were in scoring position. Shea's defense held up though, forcing the purple and gold to have to kick a field goal. The field goal was no good, keeping the game at 14-6.
After another couple of empty drives, Shea got the ball to start a drive with 2:28 remaining in the game. They showed heart, getting themselves down the field and posing a real threat to tie the contest. It was Dramane Bamba yet again leading this drive for the Raiders. Shea eventually faced 4th down with less than a minute remaining on the clock and were not able to convert. That was the ball game.
St. Rays head coach Mike Sassi said "We made some great adjustments defensively in the 2nd half." He continued, "Offensively having a sophomore like Damien Ocampo step up and make some big plays for us with our top offensive weapon being out this week, Ethan McCann-Carter, we needed some other guys to step up."
The players definitely stepped up in this one, showing the depth that St. Rays has. Moses Meus affected the running game and the passing game. Damien Ocampo hauled in a pair of huge receptions to get his team on the board. Daniel Wulf was still able to move the ball when he had to despite his favorite target being on the sidelines.
The Saints showed in this one that they can overcome adversity, a dangerous trait that opposing teams will have to deal with in the coming days. St. Rays will take on Westerly at home this coming Friday for a chance to advance to the State Championship Game.